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Levine: Sale Throws At Top Form In Cactus League Opener

By Bruce Levine-

GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) -- White Sox ace Chris Sale was in midseason form in his first start of spring training Friday.

If a February debut means anything, then the rest of the spring should be about getting the proper innings in until Opening Day for the lanky lefty. Sale retired eight of the nine hitters he faced, allowing one hit while striking out four against the Dodgers.

Before he took the mound pitching coach, Don Cooper gave him a game plan.

"He said  my emphasis should be fastball-change up," Sale said. "He said throw a few sliders if you need to, but that is the game plan."

Sale will be manager Robin Ventura's Opening Day starter at home against the Twins on March 31 at U.S Cellular Field. Although his win-loss in 2013 weren't great last year, Sale is considered a top-five American league pitchers by most baseball people.

"On a decent hitting team, Sale would have won 20 games last year," an American league scout in attendance said on Friday. "I know at least 10 teams approached the Sox about a trade and were told no this winter."

Sale signed a $47-million contract with the Sox a year ago, in what general managers consider a tremendous bargain for management. He backed away from throwing in the offseason and feels stronger for the rest.

"I have not gone through the dead-arm period as I have in the past," Sale said. "We will see and just play it by ear as I go."

Bruce Levine is a baseball reporter/analyst for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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